This is a collection of the media coverage of the Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) practices around the collection of data on gang membership. This issue is commonly referred to the CPD’s “gang database” although in reality the data the CPD collects around data collection spans multiple different data system.
An important document everyone interested in the topic of the CPD’s gang data collection should read is the report from Chicago Inspector General’s Office titled “Review of the Chicago Police Department’s “Gang Database””. You can find it here.
As was discussed in our recent Facebook Live interview with Deborah Witzburg, the Deputy Public Safety Inspector General, the CPD’s internal processes are basically broken and have been for a very long time. Deborah discussed a report from her office on how the CPD responds to subpoenas. Their analysis proved definitively that the CPD has no internal controls to make sure they are responding to subpoenas responsibly and within the constitutional requirements. This should scare anyone interested in the rule of law in Chicago.
With this context you can understand just how terrible it is for a police agency that cannot even control how they respond to subpoenas being the source of such powerful and destructive data that labels people gang members. The media coverage detailed below and the reports from the Inspector General’s Office clearly detail an agency that is not worthy of public trust when it comes to generating and maintain this data.
The media coverage detailed below spans from early May 2017 through July 22, 2020. We collect all the media coverage of crime, violence, and justice issues in Chicago through our Justice Media Project.